Not to say that we were struggling at the start. But I think Vukovic only had to deal with one tricky ball for the entire first half – towards the end when Archie should’ve gone for a header, but just stood there instead. Vukovic tried to punch the ball away, albeit badly, so it rebounded off the top of Thompson’s head and uugggh…
Even Danny (Allsopp) was disappointing, with the ghosts of season 1 apparently lurking about. The thing about season 1 was that we had our opportunities, but we couldn’t convert them into goals. Danny would miss a few each match – perhaps why the Victory fans were on his back so much. Unfairly though, as he contributed so much to the rest of the field, often saving us in defence… Anyway, last night Danny was a fraction late a few times. Often unmarked too, so he would’ve scored for a couple of them… but hearing up how much pain he was in, I’d have to say that he deserves a lot of praise for still putting in a solid effort.
So Danny ended up being subbed off for Ryall. Considering how solid Ryall was last week, I really wonder why Merrick didn’t start him last night, in right-back instead of Broxham who was not only struggling with the Mariners attack, but Heffernan’s ventures down the wing.
I don’t think Broxham was having a bad day, he’s just not defensive material, and I suspect his lack of height doesn’t help. But when he was freed from defensive duties and allowed to roam the midfield, he started to give the Central Coast outfit some problems and the whole team lifted. With a low centre of gravity and a stock build, Broxham is built to play in the middle of the park – it would take a very hard tackle to make him lose his balance. The only reason I can think of for Merrick starting Broxham is his attitude and work ethic vs. the desperation that comes from the Mariners.
Broxham is a hard worker, eager to win the ball and persists until he wins it. It’s something that can be done in the midfield as there’s space, bu noin the defence where there’s no time to have second chance. Once the ball is in his possession, he makes good use of it too. The final 15 minutes of the match finally connected our defense to the attackers, as the long balls were still going, but there was a shorter ball option as Broxham was about making sure the connections were there.
I’m quite concerned about how little game time Caceres is getting. With Keenan out, it would’ve made sense to play Caceres on the left wing. Instead he’s played on the foreign right wing*, where he has limited opportunities to play on his preferred left foot. Further, while his defensive abilities have improved, putting him on the right wing against the stamped that was Brown and Heffernan forcing Caceres to under-perform. I don’t think he was doing that badly, so I was as surprised as Caceres was angry to have been taken off so early in the match.
Pantelidis inclusion in the game on the right flank cut out all the nonsense that was going on that side of the park, and I don’t know why he didn’t start in the match. If Merrick wasn’t sure on playing Ryall, but happy to play Panta 30 minutes into the match, then why not start Panta in the right-back position instead of Broxham?
*I know I put him on the right in my midield, but I wanted Keenan in there too.